FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Winnipeg, MB – The resumption of the ILWU and BCMEA strike at British Columbia ports is of grave concern to the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry. Industry stakeholders are urging the federal government for immediate intervention.
Manitoba Pork and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) reemphasize the severity of the situation and its implications for the sector, and are calling for immediate federal intervention to implement back to bring the strike to an end. Recovery from the first 13 days of the strike would have taken at least until the middle of October, a date that is now being pushed even further back. In addition to immediate contract losses and increased costs, farmers and processors are also concerned about Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier in international markets.
KAP general manager Brenna Mahoney highlighted the urgency of the situation, stating, “the ongoing labor dispute is severely affecting our ability to get our agricultural products to global markets. We are already witnessing the negative consequences on our reputation as a reliable supplier. This is costing both farmers and our value-added processors. Jobs in every region of Manitoba will be impacted.”
Particularly hard hit by the dispute are chilled pork exports to key Asian markets, like Japan. The disruptions in the supply chain, coupled with the recovery challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, are adding further financial strain on processors and farmers. Manitoba exports over $730,000,000 worth of pork through west coast ports every year, shipments that are once again halted.
Manitoba Pork general manager Cam Dahl echoes these concerns, saying, “the shutdown of west coast ports is costing processors and farmers millions today and is jeopardizing our relationships with international customers in the longer term. We urgently need federal intervention to end the current work stoppage and a long-term solution that will prevent this crisis from recurring.”
Mahoney highlights the need for a recovery plan, stating, “we need comprehensive recovery plan to ensure shipments of perishable food exports expedited once the current dispute is resolved.”
Manitoba Pork and KAP also stress the importance of developing and communicating contingency plans to mitigate the impacts of labor disputes in the future. These plans could include:
- Declaring food and agriculture shipments as essential;
- Initiating mediation prior to strikes or lockouts occurring; and
- Implementing staggered contracts to ensure operational continuity in impacted ports during times of disruption.
Dahl and Mahoney concluded “the federal government must work alongside industry stakeholders, and unions to implement robust recovery and contingency plans and ensure the current disruptions end and do not recur.”
For more information:
Colin Hornby, KAP Manager of Communications & Stakeholder Relations | 204-898-2641 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Joey Dearborn, Manitoba Pork Communications and Website Coordinator | 204-232-4916 | email@example.com